Today I want to share with you a treasure that my sister introduced me to. It's a book called Letters From Father Christmas and it's written by J.R.R.Tolkien. Yes, the same Tolkien who wrote The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion. But what you need to know about this book is that is was never written for the general public. These are letters that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to his own children, John, Michael, Christopher and Priscilla, from Father Christmas for them to find on Christmas morning! They start in 1920 and go through to 1943 and they contain the stories, tales and hilarious antics that happen at the North Pole in preparation for Christmas. The letters are written by Tolkien in a shaky handwriting and are accompanied by the most endearing illustrations. They are all done in ink, and I am assuming given the time in history that these were written, it is fountain pen ink. He has them so beautifully detailed and they compliment his letters perfectly. He truly was a storyteller, both in writing and in picture.
Here is Father Christmas and his house. Can you imagine receiving a letter from Father Christmas when you are 3 years old and he includes a hand drawn picture of him and his house? It must have been so magical for his children.
He also hand lettered each envelope and created his own stamps for them. Here is a sample of some of the stamps.
I wanted to share one of the stories with you to give you a taste of how wonderful this book is. This letter was written to John, Michael, and Christopher in 1925.
Cliff House, Top of the World, Near the North Pole
My dear boys,
I am dreadfully busy this year - it makes my hand more shaky than ever when I think of it - and not very rich; in fact awful things have been happening and some of the presents got spoilt, and I haven't got the North Polar bear to help me, and I have had to move houses just before Christmas, so you can imagine what a state everything is in, and you will see why I have a new address, and why I can only write one letter between you both.
It all happened like this: one very windy day last November my hood blew off and went and stuck on top of the North Pole. I told him not to, but the North Polar Bear climbed up to the thin top to get it down - and he did. The pole broke in the middle and fell on the roof of my house, and the North Polar Bear fell through the hole it made into the dining room with my hood over his nose, and all the snow fell off the roof into the house and melted and put out all the fires and ran down into the cellars, where I was collecting this year's presents, and the North Polar Bear's leg got broken.
He is well again now, but I was so cross with him that he says he won't try to help me again - I expect his temper is hurt, and will be mended by next Christmas.
I send you a picture of the accident and of my new house on the cliff above the North Pole (with beautiful cellars in the cliffs). If John can't read my old shaking writing (one thousand nine hundred and twenty-five years old) he must get his father to. When is Michael going to learn to read, and write his own letters to me? Lots of love to you both and Christopher, whose name is rather like mine.
That's all: Good Bye
Father Christmas was in a great hurry - told me to put in one of his magic wishing crackers. As you pull, wish and see if it doesn't come true. Excuse thick writing I have a fat paw. I help Father Christmas with his packing: I live with him. I'm the
GREAT (Polar) BEAR
The Great Polar Bear slipped in a little note this year as well:) Here is the picture that was included with the letter and the actual letter:
Isn't this wonderful? That Polar Bear is always making some sort of mischief for Father Christmas, but his heart is in the right place:) The sad thing about this book is that to the best of my knowledge it is no longer in print. You need to find a used copy on the internet or in an old bookstore (where the best books are always found anyways, right?). I was lucky enough to get my copy from my college. They were reducing their children's book collection and this book was among them! I immediately asked if I could buy it, so now I have my own copy. I highly recommend that if you can find a copy - buy it - you will love it!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I'll try to share another story from the book with you tomorrow for Christmas Eve!
Merry Christmas everyone!